ABOUT THE FILM
A REVOLUTION IN FOUR SEASONS is the story of Emna and Jawhara, and the struggle for democracy in Tunisia, the country that kicked off the Arab Spring revolutions. Standing in contrast to the civil wars of Syria and Yemen, the autocratic retreat of Egypt and the unstable failed state of Libya, Tunisia perseveres alone in its dogged march towards a more democratic future. Director/Producer Jessie Deeter and Co-Producer Sara Maamouri began filming in 2011.
This film began when I was living abroad with my family in 2010 and 2011 as a Fulbright Scholar in Oman, Morocco and Tunisia. When the people of Tunisia, the country we lived in that seemed least likely to spark a Revolution, kicked out President Ben Ali, we knew that the world would never be the same. It was the equivalent of the fall of the Berlin wall, and, as a journalist and documentary film-maker, I knew that I wanted to find a way to tell the story, especially the deeper question of what happens after a Revolution. What would democracy mean in a land that has never had it? What would be the role of the Islamists who were persecuted for so many years under the old authoritarian, Euro-centric, regime? Would the freedoms and rights of women be protected if Islamists are given more say in a newly democratic system?
My Tunisian film-making partner Sara Maamouri and I soon met two women on opposite sides of the political spectrum whom we thought were exceptional representatives of what their country was facing. Emna Ben Jemaa is a staunchly secular journalist/blogger and heroine of the Revolution, and Jawhara Ettis is an Islamist English teacher who, as it turns out, was elected to the first Parliament after the Revolution, in charge of writing Tunisia’s new constitution. We have fallen in love with these women as they have matured from young idealists into mature women with families of their own. Over the four years of filming, their personal struggles mirrored the external challenges facing their country.
My love for and knowledge of the MENA region goes back to my years working as a PeaceCorps volunteer in Morocco in ’94 -'96, when my then best friend, now husband, was a PeaceCorps volunteer in Tunisia. We both speak French and Arabic, and I was the first person in UC Berkeley’s journalism program to get a second Master’s degree with a Middle East focus in 2001. We have lived and worked in countries through the region for two decades. It has been an honor to be able to tell the recent story of Tunisia through the eyes of these two remarkable women, Emna and Jawhara.
– Jessie Deeter